A peaceful ‘herb’itat

Veronica Kho was always surrounded with greeneries, however it is only this year that she discovered her love for gardening.

Discovering her passion for gardening during the movement control order (MCO), Veronica Kho reveals that planting herbs is a calming pastime and can help release her stress. Plus, it really helps if you are a conscious cook as having fresh herbs on hand for cooking is such a treat.

Good things will take time

For all the years that Veronica Kho spent at her home, she never thought much of the greenery planted by her father all around. However, this year, she finally decided to try her hands at planting herbs.

Veronica Kho was always surrounded with greeneries, however it is only this year that she discovered her love for gardening.

Given an option of having manicured nails or digging soils in the garden, the 25-year-old firmly answered, “If you asked me to choose, my answer is definitely gardening.”

Describing her time spent in the backyard, she said “Some may not like it as there will always be caterpillars and worms! But on a serious note, gardening can help de-stress, and listening to music while you’re planting can be very therapeutic.”

Veronica revealed that she started planting with rosemary and Thai basil. “I started with these two as I have the seeds at home and when it grows, it gave me a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Plus, these two are the most pungent ones.” According to Veronica, her garden emits a refreshing and pleasant aroma with the different herbs growing side by side.

Her current favourite among the herbs are mint and rosemary. Mixed with her homegrown lemon, Veronica said that the refreshing mint, together with some alcohol, makes her favourite drink Mojito, which she enjoys having time to time.

Rosemary, on the other hand, makes a good enhancer to meat dishes. “I love adding rosemary into either chicken or lamb. Even though it is cooked in a simple way, the herb makes them much more delicious!”

Thai Basil which she grew herself to incorporate into her homemade lasagna.

Growing with Veronica

Ever since she was a child, Veronica revealed that she always watch her father spend his time at his garden, even before going to work. “He just loves gardening. Plus, he’s got a green thumb, so almost everything grows. He also loves cooking. His go-to dishes would often be Italian, so he would pluck herbs straight from the garden to put inside. His cooking would always taste great because of the fresh herbs.”

She also shared that her grandfather also has a knack for gardening. “However, he prefers Asian herbs rather than the Western ones that my father planted”

According to Veronica, when she started gardening this year, she was guided by her father. The former hotelier added that due to the movement control order (MCO) in March, and salary cut soon after, she quit her job to venture deeper into the world of herbs.

“I started my own business selling these plants as I saw that in Kuching, there are many herbs enthusiasts. I think that during the MCO, many individuals discovered their hidden passion!” Veronica exclaimed.

With business growing steadily, Veronica also improvised and found different ways to earn. “I began to bake homemade lasagna, incorporating my homegrown herbs inside. I started mainly because I want to see what else I can do. I am not getting any younger, and if I don’t do it now, then when? I have all the time in the world now.”

Discovering the struggles of being an entrepreneur, she conceded that it is not as easy as it looks. “But as long as you are hardworking, I believe everything will be alright. Just put more effort in and give some time for the business to grow.”

Pour your heart out

Among the many life lessons she found throughout the year’s journey, the International Event Management graduate added that good things will take time. “If you care for something, give it some time and it will turn out well,” she said.

Apart from herbs, Veronica also plant some hydrangeas.

Elaborating, Veronica recalled the times when her efforts gone to waste, “I have an active, playful dog. She likes to play around and chase after cats. Sometimes when she runs, she would accidentally hit the plants and you can only watch as the pots topple and breaks. It happened countless times.

“Also, sometimes the plants would die due to weather condition. I plant some in the ground instead of pots, and it is very hard to control. When it is hot, I can pour water or put some shades on them. However, when it’s raining and it gets too wet, it will die,” she said.

Veronica admitted that she would be very sad when things go left, “Of course I’d be sad and disappointed. It took months for them to grow only for them to die within seconds. I have hydrangeas too, which can take a year to bloom. So when you see a branch snapped, it is like my heart snapped too.”

Nonetheless, the petite gardener said that with every moment she spent in the garden, her passion continues to grow too. Pouring her heart out into what she plants, Veronica conceded that her newfound love for gardening will never wither.

Veronica Kho shares her tips on how-to generally grow herbs

While she mentioned that herbs are easy to grow, here are a few tips that she shared which she practice herself at home.

1 . When planting herbs, take into account of what kind of soil they prefer, the amount of sunlight and the watering amount.

2 . Take note of what kind of soil the herbs prefer it either; acidic, neutral or more alkaline. Some plants such as rosemary are fussy, and with our humid weather, they would prefer well-drained soil so that water do not accumulate and causes the roots to rot.

3 . Take into account of the water they should receive accordingly. According to Veronica, certain herbs she would water them daily. Certain herbs she would water them when they are dry to the touch. For example, Rosemary likes full day sun, well-drained soil, hence she does not water them daily as they prefer dry conditions.

4 . If the herbs are planted on the ground, under the sun, just water over their leaves, make sure the soil gets enough water. But, if planted in pot, it is recommendable to water them at the base of the plant instead of over the leaves.